I can’t say enough good things about this book. No, really, this post is going to be mostly exclamation points! So please, just get this book. Or borrow it from your library, which is what I should have done two years ago when I first saw it on the “new releases” shelf at my library but passed it up. Either way, read it! Nothing I can say will do justice to how incredible this book is.
So the premise of the book is that Ursula is, for reasons never explained, given unlimited do-overs in her life. She’s born lifeless. Then she is born and saved just in time. She dies of the flu, of falling out a window, of countless other things; she lives through mediocre, wonderful, and horrific lives that branch off considerably from the various turning points she faces. Most of the book takes place during World War II (yep, my favorite!), so we get to see her serve her country in England, end up married with a child in Nazi Germany, and see family members, friends, and lovers die or be saved in the nick of time.
I have never read a novel with this fascinating set up before, but I absolutely loved it. Don’t we all wonder, at one time or another, how our lives would have ended up if we had made a different choice at some turning point–or even if some small detail would have changed our lives forever? We get to explore this idea through Ursula’s many lives. Although she and the other characters are never explicitly aware of this do-over effect, Ursula begins to suspect it and is able to help steer her life in a different direction the next time, as are other characters who never suspect a thing. It’s fascinating.
This is my first Kate Atkinson book, but you can bet it won’t be the last. If the rest of her books are even half as inventive, poignant, and powerful as this one is, I’ll be more than satisfied.
Rating: Re-read Worthy (no seriously, just read it!!)